Four Restaurant Marketing Strategies That Will Open New Doors During COVID-19

3/24/20 8:00 AM

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The current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is having a major impact on all sectors of public life. The need for social distancing to slow the spread of the coronavirus has led to voluntary and mandatory shutdowns in many industries. As people avoid contact with each other (and especially crowds), restaurant dining has declined. Sales have decreased anywhere from 32% to 90% in some cases. Concern over losing major revenue during this time of unexpected change in consumer behavior means restaurants must re-evaluate their business and marketing strategies and focus on the areas that they can control. Here are four restaurant marketing strategies to help you survive until this crisis has passed.

1. Heavy Focus on Online Ordering and Delivery 

Although some restaurants have closed, most have guidelines stating that they cannot offer dine in, but delivery and take-out are still allowed. Capitalize on this lifeline by putting a heavy focus on your online ordering and delivery services. Delivery options can include in-person delivery and “no-contact delivery,” where the driver leaves the order at the customer’s doorstep or in their apartment lobby. Take-out options can include in-person pickup or curbside - having the order brought out to the customer’s car. 

Many consumers are worried about (or are currently experiencing) grocery store shortages as “panic buying” peaks. One restaurant marketing strategy is to use this concern in your messaging: assure consumers that you are still in business and can provide the delicious food they are used to having. For customers who are self-quarantined, a reliable food source can be a great relief; and income from delivery can be a great relief for your business.

If you don’t have in-house delivery, or if you find you need to cut staff or reduce overhead, you can partner with a third-party provider such as DoorDash. Having an integrated restaurant point of sale (POS) system will allow you to leverage third-party drivers to get your food to your customers while still retaining control of your customer data. 

2. Encouraging Gift Card Purchases

Another way that patrons can infuse cash into restaurants while still adhering to social distancing guidelines is to purchase gift cards (preferably online) for future use. These purchases act almost as a “microloan” for consumers to support their favorite restaurants during this time of need. And the cards can stimulate additional income when they are redeemed: one survey found that 59% of consumers spend more than the card’s face value. Digital gift cards are the perfect way for your most loyal customers to support you without leaving the safety of their homes—and to help ensure you’re still operating normally when they can resume normal dining-out activities. 

3. Modifying Your Restaurant Loyalty Program 

A restaurant marketing strategy that can encourage customers to use online ordering and delivery and to purchase gift cards is to modify your existing loyalty program and ramp up rewards for these behaviors. For example, you could offer double points for gift card purchases, or a free drink with an online order. This tactic will help businesses reshape how patrons do business with their organizations and encourage them to continue supporting you during this abnormal time.

4. Leverage Digital Marketing to Spread the Word

Before the pandemic, you may have used a combination of traditional and digital marketing for your restaurant. Now, however, traditional methods such as in-store signage, billboards, and flyers will be less effective. Social distancing and self-isolation will make consumers even more dependent on their smartphones and devices to stay connected to the world and seek some form of normalcy. Digital will be the best restaurant marketing strategy to keep in touch with your customers and promote your new focuses. You can use a combination of social media and email marketing to spread the message that you are still available to provide customers with their favorite meals. Make sure your website and mobile app are up to date (especially your online menus!) and optimized for an exceptional customer experience. Do not forget to update your Google My Business listing with current hours of operation. Businesses may also adjust their services to reflect their current state of business. You may also leverage GMB posts to share important updates that customers will find helpful.

Stay Prepared with an Integrated Restaurant Management System

All restaurant marketing strategies can be made easier with the right technology. An integrated restaurant management system is the key to keeping your restaurant prepared no matter the changes in consumer behavior. 

Revention is a leading provider of restaurant technology that is continually tailored to meet evolving customer needs—such as our latest “no-contact delivery” feature updates available in our POS and online ordering platforms and coming soon for our mobile app customers. Request a demo today to learn how Revention can help your restaurant get through the Coronavirus pandemic and continue to grow beyond it. 

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Jamie Swartz

Written by Jamie Swartz

Director of Product Marketing @ Revention. Technophile, marketer, traveler, foodie and love the unexpected and unknown.

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